Soccer injuries to look out for this season! Part two

Soccer injuries to look out

If you’re keen to be at the top of your soccer game and stay injury-free this season, keep reading! Last week we shared with you the first five common soccer injuries we treat here at our podiatry clinic in Toowoomba (patellar tendinopathy (Jumper’s Knee), ankle sprains, adductor tendinopathy (groin strain), hamstring strains and fractures). 

Today we’ll be sharing the final five: anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, shin splints, Achilles tendinopathy, turf toe and medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains. By knowing the injuries often sustained during your sport of choice and understanding how and why they occur, you can work to prevent injury so you can stay at your best all season. If pain or injury does occur for you or a teammate, knowing and understanding what’s going on means you’ll be able to stop it from getting any worse and hence decrease the recovery and off-field time as much as possible.

1. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury

Your ACL is one of the ligaments located inside the knee joint, connecting the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone), that plays a crucial role in providing stability to the knee. This means that the knee is able to stay stable and strong during movements like:

  • Turning quickly on your leg
  • Suddenly stopping to kick the ball
  • Rapidly start running again
  • Twisting the leg

The knee remains stable, in place, and helps you perform that motion with good strength and balance. Unfortunately, these are also the same actions that when done under great force or under great strain on the knee can damage the ACL ligament and leave the knee feeling tender, swollen, unstable and generally painful to move.

2. Shin splints

Shin splints describe that frustrating aching pain in the front of our shin bones that many experiences during strenuous physical activities such as running. Shin splints occur from stress on the tibia (the shin bone) and the muscles and tissues that surround and attach to the tibia. It is the fast-paced nature of soccer and the constant running and moving that exerts a lot of force onto the shins and the muscles of the lower legs. The twisting motions in soccer can also exert a bending stress on the tibia. This means pain and inflammation that is felt along the front of the shins, usually during or after activity. Because pain from shin splints can come and go with activity, it has the potential to significantly impair your game so make sure you get your legs seen by your Podiatrist when this pain starts to develop so it doesn’t progress and worsen.

3. Achilles tendinopathy

Damage to the Achilles tendon presents as pain and tenderness at the back of the heel. These symptoms are exacerbated by activities such as running and pointing the toes upwards. The Achilles tendon itself attaches to the back of the calcaneus (heel bone) from the calf muscles. This makes players with tight calf muscles and biomechanical abnormalities of the feet and legs more likely to develop Achilles tendinopathy. Damage occurs when the tendon is overused or repetitively strained to the point of damage. Interestingly, unlike other tendons, the Achilles has a poor blood supply meaning that healing and repair can take longer. This is why it’s important to manage any problems with your Achilles tendon early.

4. Turf toe

Turf toe essentially describes the sprain of the big toe joint. The toe becomes painful, swollen, limited in its movement and may feel unstable. It occurs when the toe is forced upwards, injuring the tissues and ligaments that stabilise the big toe. This can happen from: 

  • Suddenly starting a run
  • Impact from the ball 
  • A fall or trauma where the toe is forced upwards

5. Medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains

The MCL is another ligament that supports and stabilises the knee, though unlike the ACL which is located inside the knee joint, the MCL is located on the outside of the knee joint on the inner side of the knee. It also connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). Any blow to the outside of the knee that pushes the knee inwards can strain the MCL. This can also occur if the foot caught while preparing to kick and quick twisting of the knee to turn or change direction. Again, there will be pain, tenderness and swelling on the inside of the knee, as well as a feeling of instability at the knee joint. Because MCL sprains have different grades of severity, it’s important to get seen by your Podiatrist quickly to know the extent of the injury, employ the most effective treatment modalities, and to stop the MCL injury from worsening or even completely rupturing.

As we mentioned in part one, if an injury does occur then it’s important to stop the activity that’s causing the pain so it doesn’t worsen. As soon as you’re able to, get to your podiatrist so they can assess the extent of the injury and form the best treatment plan for your feet and legs. Here at The Podiatrist, we don’t treat every injury the same but combine the best in evidence-based treatment protocols with your goals, lifestyle and daily activities to give you the best opportunities throughout your recovery and help you recover as quickly as possible. We’ve been proudly helping sports injuries in Toowoomba & Darling downs for over 20 years and would love to help you too.

Make sure to have fun and take care when you’re out on the field and if you haven’t yet had a chance to enjoy this fantastic sport, we don’t have long to go before the World Cup matches start in June, so you’ll be able to check out the Socceroos at their best soon!

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